Monday, October 06, 2008

Hell, Deism & the Mark of the Beast

With such a title, one would think this post must aim pretty high. Not so, just a few quick thoughts (and most of them dealing with what is below rather than what is above). While considering the eternal and constant creation of God, this thought occurred to me:

While an atheist will be right about the world when Hell freezes over, I think the deist will be right as soon as Hell is his world (I mean as soon as he enters Hell). That is, it seems like God must totally remove Himself from the world of Hell (whatever that world is) in a way quite different than ours. At this moment, we do not have the Beatific Vision and we are not walking and worshiping Him as Adam did nor even as Moses did. There is some separation but nothing like the separation which will be true of Hell.

I wonder if Hell is a world where deism really is true. God sets it in motion and leaves the inhabitants to themselves. Such a world, even if it started as paradise, would end up a Lake of Fire in no time at all. Humans "left to their own devices" will become eternally enslaved to sin which is the absence of Godliness. Sin only destroys and leads to death - therefore eternal death.

Now what does this have to do with the "Mark of the Beast"? Oh, everything! This is my 666th post. Eek.. (Seriously it is, but it's entirely coincidental).


Andrew Preslar said...

Happy 666, O Man.

May you soon reach 777. You could name it Lamech.

Neal Judisch and Family said...

This is actually tricky stuff, Tim.

If the classical picture is right the contingency of any created object at all, whether it's in hell or not, needs to be actively sustained by God lest in lapse into the nothingness whence it came. If that's right then deism's out, even for hell.

It can still be true of course that God leaves people to their own devices as you describe; the doors are locked from the inside and all that sort of thing. Also, God's providence (beneficient oversight and guidance) can be removed from the picture, I suppose. And I suppose that's your real point, which seems true: we don't need the help of demons to make our surrounding hellish; just leave us to ourselves and we'll get there eventually.

But it just seems unavoidable (to me, anyway) that God's got to be intimately involved "down there" somehow. I remember reading some Reformed folks saying that it isn't right to say that hell is absence from God, etc., since God is quite present in hell "executing His wrath" and so forth. I don't know if God's got to be doing that, but He's got to be keeping hellish souls in existence at least and thus actively present to them in at least that sense.

Pedantic? I guess; the point of your post is well taken. It's just that you've touched on a subject here which I find extremely perplexing.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Thanks for the comment. I was thinking along those lines and wondering about that. You're definitely right - it's very tricky.

I guess asking whether God could create a world which could exist per natural laws without Him is the equivalent of asking whether He could create a rock too heavy for Him to lift.

pan said...

Pandeism teaches, through a series of logical proofs, that God in fact became the Universe, and everything that exists is an aspect of God.... and since all of us are aspects of God, what we do to one another is what we do to the God that created us, and is the experience that we will ourselves be given unto in eternity after God ceases to be the Universe and returns to being God -- and is that not a better heaven and hell than any set of external vouchers? That those who give happiness should experience the very happiness they have given, and those who give suffering should experience the very suffering they have given?

And, is God not aware of all things? Would God's experience of the suffering of people in Hell be any less complete than those people themselves? If there is a Hell, in other words, does God not know every moment of suffering within it?

Tim A. Troutman said...

Pan, thanks for stopping by. Christianity would disagree sharply with the notion that God is the universe or vice versa or that God is any part of the universe etc.. We believe that God is wholly extrinsic to the universe.

This is something the ancient pagans could not understand although Aristotle did have his own logical proofs that there must be a Prime Mover (God) and that He must not be matter.

WALL said...

As, a Catholic boy, I was taught that God is Infinitely Just and Infinitely Merciful. This makes eternal, infinite Hell the impossibility of reason. There is no way you could commit a crime so bad that it would warrant infinite punishment, because no crime can be infinite.

God is the Natural Laws of the Universe. The Universe must be in perfect balance, or else it would be destroyed, and only true justice would be able to keep this balance. God is not the Universe, he is greater than it. The Universe is not infinite in size and energy, God most certainly is.

Then you may ask, how can God be perfectly merciful if he is perfectly just? If we ask for God's forgiveness and it is legitimate, of total free will and we are truly sorry, it doesn't matter the circumstances, we will be able to enter into eternal paradise. This is where God's perfect mercy comes in. There is no good that we can do to deserve to be in infinite paradise for all eternity, but God's own goodness and mercy allow us to be there with him.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Hi Wall, thanks for the comments. I agree that God is perfect in His justice and in His mercy but I do not agree that God is the natural laws of the universe.

Catholic Christianity teaches God as wholly external to the universe and that the Universe was created by Him out of nothing. Therefore, the laws which govern the universe are also created by God and God is uncreated. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're saying though.

I also disagree (as does the Catholic Church) that the concept of Hell defies reason. Your objection is understandable, but Aquinas has adequately addressed this objection as well as others.